Adjusting to a “New” body is a challenge.
I’m briefly interrupting our Workhorse Wardrobe series (no clue what that means? Don’t worry, you can catch up here, and here) to chat about something that’s been hitting me hard while I’ve been going through these steps, and I want hear your thoughts about it as well. Adjusting to a “new” body is something most of us have dealt with in some way or another, so hit me with those brilliant insights you all definitely have. I’m ready for ’em!
Body changes in general present a whole host of challenges. I mean in any form. The obvious ones being weight gain. Pregnancy. Weight loss (which is commonly considered the Holy Grail of all achievements so how could dealing with it possibly be hard?). It’s just hard.
Since I’ve never been pregnant or birthed a child I can’t comment on that transition (although I know from my friends who have carried and made little babes, and the obvious fact that the female body is LITERALLY MAKING A HUMAN – it’s major).
Weight loss and gain though? That I know. That I know so well, I could write a book on it. But how about a blog post instead?
#1 – Logistics are the absolute worst.
Adjusting to a new body means lots of things. Your confidence changes (more on that later), your schedule has probably changed and you’ve adopted or rejected certain habits, AND…your stuff doesn’t fit anymore. If it’s because of weight loss, this can often disguise itself as a victory. OH MY GOD I’m so small, look at this dress swimming on me! These jeans! There’s so much space!
If it’s because of weight gain? Same song, different tune. OH MY GOD look at this dress not…buttoning…at all. These jeans! They won’t…go over my hips.
And don’t get me started on the in-between moments if you historically gain and lose weight constantly. So I’m no longer this size, but I’m definitely not small enough to fit into that dress yet. Shopping and self-loathing are my only options. Then (THEN!) you don’t know if you’ll be fluctuating back to your old weight or continuing on your journey to your new year, new you, so you carry the smaller sizes with you for 5 years until those pieces are no longer even in fashion. (Real life example? I recently got rid of a pair of white capri pants. This bizarre hoarder tendency is real.)
If you’ve ever struggled with body acceptance and found yourself following weight loss accounts on social media (if you haven’t, it’s totally a thing), you’ll see these folks keeping pants from like A BILLION sizes ago and fitting both legs in one leg of their jeans or fitting themselves and their partner/kid/dog (or maybe all 3!) into their dress along with them to show how far they’ve come.
The thing about struggling with body acceptance is that you never know where you are on that journey. Do you keep your “fat pants” to use for “look how gross I used to be” instagram post? Or do you keep them because you might be wearing them again next year? Hard to say. Even harder to realize that you aren’t gross if you never get out of the “fat pants.” Or even have to get BIGGER “fat pants.” But that’s another post for another time.
Regardless, reconciling the inside of your closet with your ever-changing waistline and the parts of your mind that are fueling your “new” body pursuits – it can be very messy.
#2 – The Peanut Gallery Will Always Have Something to Say
It doesn’t matter which direction the scale is going or why. The people in your life (and sometimes not in your life – I’m looking at you, middle school classmate’s mom…) will notice, and with their noticing, they will have things to say because they’re humans and we as humans have this insane inability to just…not voice our opinions.
Now, probably 95% of the time, these comments are as well-meaning as they can be. They’re meant to be compliments. But sometimes, those compliments are so left-handed you never see them coming. And those sting like hell.
When you’re on the upswing of weight loss (confusing phrasing, but stick with me), often those compliments will go something like this:
“I’m so glad to see you’ve lost all that weight! You look so great now!” – Translation: wow you were super yuck before, and I’m glad you aren’t anymore.
“You look so much better now.” – Yes. Someone said those exact words to me.
“You look AMAZING! You look like a completely different person!”
These are things people just feel…okay saying somehow. As if you’re not still the same person, and if you gain back any of the weight you’ve lost, you’ll really disappoint them by going back to your previous state.
Now when your drastic body change is a weight gain?…it’s a whole different kind of commentary. In fact, commentary doesn’t quite cover the form of communication you’ll receive. Most people you know in real life won’t feel brazen enough to just come right out and say “wow you got real fat.”
For people you don’t see often? It’s in the non-verbal communication. How their eyes widen and eyebrows shoot up when they first see you. The complete lack of commentary on your appearance one way or another – I’ve found this is much easier to handle.
The people who feel closest to you though – parents, siblings, extended family members and well-meaning friends who feel like they need to let you in on the fact that you’ve gained weight as though you haven’t felt it every single second of the day. Their concerned looks, the offers to be your gym buddy, the “but you seemed to be doing so well with your weight loss?” awkward conversations – those are so much more difficult to handle.
Mostly because you know where they’re coming from, and it’s a place of love, not malice. They really do care about you, and they want all of the things that are promised to thin, pretty, accepted people, they want those things for you. Trying to convince them that you’re happy and that you have all of the things you need, and that you ARE pretty regardless of the scale, and that you’ve accepted yourself and that’s all you need…it’s the ultimate work in progress. It’s almost as difficult as trying to convince yourself.
#3 – Sometimes? It just doesn’t feel right.
This one rings the most true. In literally every weight loss attempt I’ve ever made, I’ve reached a point on the scale – and I pretty much know that number by heart at this point – where I no longer feel like myself. At all. I don’t recognize the girl in the mirror. I miss the body I know. I miss the softness in the places it used to be that inevitably become weird and bony in the absence of ice cream and bread. I miss the familiarity of knowing what to expect in the mirror. I miss the girl I was before I started “dieting,” because truth be told I never think she needs to change in the first place.
When I lose weight – not just a couple of pounds, but like…a significant amount of weight (which I’ve done and undone more times in my life than I care to recount), and I reach that “magic number,” I become wary of the girl in the mirror and in pictures. She’s treated differently, and I don’t think she’s earned the right to be. Her waist might be a little smaller, she might not take up as much space, her existence might make you a little less uncomfortable, but her brain is exactly the same as it was 800 squats and 300 gallons of water ago. The things she finds funny and her weird hobbies? Still there, just now acceptable because of the new packaging.
This is the realest struggle for me. It’s existential and painful and makes me angry. “New” Kristy has never hung around long. Part of it is because I like pizza and hate kettle bells, that’s definitely true. But part of it is because “new” Kristy is so foreign to me. She’s compares herself to everyone. She frets constantly over things like the number of calories in a banana and whether or not she’ll be able ever actually reach that scale number that will bring her true happiness. I don’t know her.
And guess what! All of this is okay. Every last bit of it. You don’t have to find yourself at a weight that feels wrong in either direction. If you do? You don’t have to stay there. Ultimately, you’re in control, and while health is important – that includes your mental health. Driving yourself insane to reach a number you don’t even like is a whole new kind of unhealthy.
I’m not perfect where I am right now. But I’m okay with that. Body acceptance isn’t a cake walk (although cake would be nice). All I know is that I’m going to try my hardest not to become someone I don’t know. The Kristy I know is pretty cool, and I want her to stick around.
What do you think?
Please share your thoughts on this one – I’m eager to hear them. Have you ever reached a point in your body’s changes that you felt you didn’t know yourself anymore? How do compliments (left-handed or otherwise) make you feel? Any tips on how to deal? We’ll be back to our regularly schedule wardrobe reconstruction in a few days, but let me know what you’ve experienced in this area of life.
I can’t wait to hear from you! Until then…